Faculty of Arts and Sciences retirements tripled last year, University announces

An unprecedented number of professors retired in the past year at university, in part because of a retirement incentive plan.


Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Forty members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences retired last year, a figure three times higher than a typical year.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler told the News the increase in retirements can be attributed in part to last year retirement incentive plan, which offered bonuses to professors aged 70 or over. The plan was originally unveiled in December 2020 for critical of the FAS Senate for the lack of contribution from professors, and gave registered members until June 30, 2021 to retire. According to provost Scott Strobel, 47 faculty members from FAS and Yale graduate schools ultimately chose to enroll in the incentive plan.

“We are grateful for the countless contributions these professors have made to our academic community,” Strobel wrote in a statement to the News.

Gendler officially announced the retirement statistics in an email to FAS professors on Thursday. True to tradition, however, tributes were written for each retiree and read aloud by Gendler at the last Yale College faculty meeting in May. Tributes were also read for six other active members of the SAF who died in the 2020-21 school year.

Penelope Laurans, who was previously principal of Jonathan Edwards College and special assistant to the president, has edited the tributes since 2000. She described the large retirement class as a “generational change.”

“Writing them down has been wonderful, interesting and fun because the faculty members themselves are so interesting and awesome, come from so many different places and have so many amazing accomplishments,” Laurans wrote to News. “I’m learning more about people I’ve known for years and discovering things about them that I didn’t know. “

Many of last year’s retirees came from small departments; Religious Studies and Spanish and Portuguese, for example, have each seen three affiliates retire.

Kang-i Sun Chang, former department head and director of graduate studies for the East Asian Languages ​​and Literatures Department, retired after 39 years at Yale. A specialist in classical Chinese literature and poetry as well as a prolific author, Chang spoke of his career and his classroom experience with fond memories.

“Teaching has been a most rewarding part of my life,” Chang said.

Chang told the News that she had already announced her intention to retire in June 2022 when the incentive plan was announced, prompting her to jump in for the “wonderful” offer. Of the seven retired professors who spoke to the News, six, including Chang, cited age and health-related reasons as the main factor.

Large departments have also seen an increase in retirements. History, for example, saw five full professors retire, while English had three. Yale College’s three biology departments had a total of seven retirees.

Computer science professor Dana Angluin told the News that she has opted for gradual retirement from the University plan three years ago and entered full retirement this year. Angluin speculated that the large number of retirements could be due to the large size of the “boomer” generation, which she said was a “cardholder”.

Angluin and her husband, Stanley Eisenstat, taught together in the computer science department for 41 years until Eisenstat who passed in December 2020.

Joel Rosenbaum, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology whose research in cell biology has spawned a new area of ​​medical knowledge, has taught introductory biology courses as well as senior research seminars for 54 years. He told the News that his department remains in good hands.

“Some very competent assistant professors and beginning teachers will teach [the students], and I suspect they’ll get pretty good at it, ”Rosenbaum said. “So, will education be affected by all these retirements?” Not a lot.”

Chemistry professor Robert Crabtree said that while he will be sure to have to attend many faculty and committee meetings, he is sad that he is no longer teaching. Still, the large retirement class is a good opportunity to diversify the University’s faculty, he said.

“When the older group was chosen, diversity was just at a much lower level among people who earned PhDs,” Crabtree said. “The sharp increase in the number of retirements gives departments the opportunity to hire a new person.”

The new class of 30 professors leading to tenure will be the most diverse in Yale history, the News reported last week.

Several professors told The News they didn’t expect retirement to completely separate them from Yale. Wai Chee Dimock, a 24-year-old professor of American studies and English who taught the famous “Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner” lecture, said she would stay in close contact with the “really energizing” university community since her news. home in Boston.

Rosenbaum noted that most emeritus professors remain active in the Yale community; although he is no longer paid to teach students, he will retain the same office and lab space to continue his research at Yale.

Other professors also told The News they would stay involved at Yale by conducting research, writing memoirs or continuing to advise their departments.

“In every way, now I’m even busier than when I was teaching,” said history professor Abbas Amanat.

Yet many are now focusing their energies on family members.

“I have been working since I was a teenager, so I am happy to relax, read great mystery books, enjoy nature and spend time with my husband and grandchildren,” wrote psychology teacher Kristi. Lockhart in an email to News. “We also just adopted a lab puppy, which is quite energetic and requires a lot of attention, kind of like having a newborn baby at an old age!

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences currently has 676 wide faculty members.


Isaac Yu writes about Yale faculty and academics. He’s also the production and design editor for the News, and has previously covered transportation and urban planning in New Haven. Originally from Garland, Texas, he is a sophomore at Berkeley College majoring in urban studies.

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